Slipping into a dress and high heels had just been a fun idea for a fancy dress party.
But, looking back, Katie Yeomans realises it was a moment that changed her life.
For more than 60 years Katie had been David. And it was not until the moment she dressed up for the first time that all the subconscious feelings she’d had about her gender came to the surface.
Katie, now 63, and a retired legal clerk, says: ‘As a child, I’d always felt uncomfortable doing boyish things and was much happier playing with my sister than my brother. I never liked sport.
‘I would avoid male activities and that extended into adulthood.
‘I’ve never been blokey. And I’ve always had more female friends.
The purpose of me speaking out is to inspire other transgender people to come out and be who they are without fear of retribution and be honest with themselves because otherwise it will destroy them physically and mentallyKatie Yeomans
‘But I’m quite unique really. It was only a few years the penny dropped.
‘A lot of transgender people have known their whole lives.
‘But either because they’re married, they have children or high-profile jobs, they don’t do anything about it. ‘There is a lot of pressure not to transition when they want to’.
As David, there was never any issue being a gay man.
Although she never came out, Katie’s friends and family always knew she was gay and it was never a problem.
‘But a few years ago I began to doubt my sexuality’ Katie says. ‘I started to think about being transgender’.
In 2014 a friend suggested Katie dress up in woman’s clothes for a fancy dress party.
‘There was nothing sexual about it, it was just for fun.’ says Katie.
‘I walked from the car to the pub and I was absolutely terrified about what people might say and if I was going to be assaulted.
‘So there must have been, in the back of my mind, more to it than just fancy dress.
‘It felt really good. I was never uncomfortable about what I was doing.
‘Although I was obviously a little anxious and apprehensive about the reaction of family and friends.
‘At first I would go away to Brighton and Bournemouth for the weekend and be Katie.
‘But when I came back and became David again I felt absolutely awful, terrible, desperately anxious.
‘One day I thought “I can’t do this any more”. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t myself and I felt like I was deceiving people.’
Katie visited her GP and was referred to The Laurels, a gender identity clinic in Exeter. Shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria – which means a person is born in the wrong body.
She says: ‘That is exactly how I felt. I feel so comfortable as Katie and I felt I should have done it years ago.’
Katie now has breasts, hips and softer skin thanks to hormone therapy.
And she is now more emotional than she was as David.
Her gender reassignment surgery will take place in about a year’s time.
‘When I told my sister, she said I should have done it years ago.
‘But I’d been made redundant, my mum died and my sister died and I think I subconsciously put it to the back of my mind.
‘When all that was over and I had time to myself and I went to the party dressed as a woman for the first time, I realised there was something different.’
At Christmas Katie received cards from her family addressed to ‘sister’, which meant so much to her.
Although Katie’s transition has been, on the whole, a positive experience, there have been moments which have made her speak out.
In the beginning she would regularly be the butt of taunts in the street.
But, as her confidence has grown, she’s managed to give witty retorts.
Katie says: ‘I was in Commercial Road, Portsmouth on a bench when a couple of men sitting opposite me said, “Look, there’s a bloke in a dress”.
‘My reply was, “That’s absolutely correct, but I’m transgender. If you don’t know what that means, Google it.
“And how would you like it if I said, Ooh, look, there’s two fat men sitting on a bench?” They were speechless.’
And there was an occasion when a drunk student threw a pint of beer over her. He wrote a letter apologising to Katie and will have the incident on his record for six years.
She says: ‘The reason I’m doing this is not to make a name for myself or glorify being transgender.
‘It’s to say that we want equality, like everyone else.
‘We don’t want special treatment. Although my transition has gone fairly well and I haven’t really felt discriminated against, there are an awful lot of people who are genuinely suffering.
‘The purpose of me speaking out is to inspire other transgender people to come out and be who they are without fear of retribution and be honest with themselves, because otherwise it will destroy them physically and mentally.
‘I remember when I used to have to change back to David and it used to kill me.’
To see a video of Katie, go to portsmouth.co.uk.